Not Your ATM - don't treat donors like one

As the economy continues to falter (or barely grow), we need people’s donations more than ever. But if we operate from a place of “need,” we can start sounding like we think we’re entitled to people’s money.

We never are.

So it’s more important than ever that you have your donor relations system in hand.

Here are some things to be thinking about as you review your plan.

  • Send acknowledgements quickly

    Time after time, bloggers report making 10 donations at the end of the year and only getting 3 acknowledgements.

    Don’t let this be you.

    Best practice is to get those out within 24 to 48 hours. Some nonprofits aim for a week, allowing them to dedicate one day for receipting.

    Just get them out.

  • Have a stewardship system decided in advance

    Acknowledgements are expected. Stewardship is much more. Here are some things I help clients consider:

    • What level gifts get a handwritten note from the development director? The ED? The board chair?
    • What level gifts get a phone call from the development director? The ED? The board chair?
    • Do you have board members or staff do a thankathon?

    These should all be spelled out so that, for instance, the ED can have a list of $1000 donors to call each week.

  • Do something special

    What can you do that makes you stand out?

    You don’t have to necessarily send chutzke. But what you do should be distinctive to you.

    And it should always say “thank you.”

    If you were Ontario Nature and did the Ruby the Hummingbird” mailing (see it on SOFII), perhaps you could send them little packets of birdseeds.

    Or maybe you could send a personal video of someone benefitting from the gift. It shouldn’t be long and doesn’t need to be overly edited. Something expressing authentic gratitude is all it needs.

Don’t let your donors feel like ATMs. Let them know that you appreciate their generosity.

What are some ways you let your donors know you appreciate them?

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